July 26, 2008

Power Station Expansion Planned

By Vic Kolenc, El Paso Times, Texas

Jul. 26--EL PASO -- About 200 construction jobs are expected to be created in coming months for the first phase of a $217 million addition to El Paso Electric's Newman Power Generating Station in far Northeast El Paso.

"This marks the first time in more than 30 years that El Paso Electric has embarked on construction of a major power facility," Frank Bates, El Paso Electric CEO, said Friday at a groundbreaking ceremony outside the Newman plant. The event was attended by some of the Newman plant's 72 employees, city officials and others.

The 288-megawatt addition, when fully operational in May 2011, will provide enough electricity to power about 200,000 homes, El Paso Electric officials said. The addition, to be built on about five acres, is a little over half the size of the existing 472-megawatt Newman plant.

The addition's 140-megawatt, natural-gas-fired first phase is expected to be operating by May.

Construction of the first phase will create about 100 construction jobs by the end of this year, and peak at about 200 jobs in the first or second quarter of next year, said Bill Sullivan, project manager for Wood Group Power Solutions, of Houston, the general contractor for the plant construction.

Sullivan said he expected two of every three subcontractors hired for the project to be El Paso companies. That means many of the construction jobs should go to El Paso workers.

El Paso Electric expects to seek bids in December for a contractor to build the 148-megawatt second

phase, said Andy Ramirez, vice president of power generation for the El Paso utility.

That construction also should create many construction jobs, he said.

The current Newman employees will be able to operate the new addition, so only one or two new company jobs will be added for the new facility, Ramirez said.

Felipe Salazar, business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 960 and El Paso Electric employee, said he and other employees are happy the power addition is being added in El Paso rather than the company seeking power elsewhere.

"It's better to be done here rather than rely on an outside source," Salazar said.

More than half El Paso Electric's power comes from a nuclear power plant in Arizona and a coal-fired plant in the Four Corners area of northwestern New Mexico.

John Fainter, president of the Association of Electric Companies of Texas, located in Austin, said Texas was in the midst of a power plant construction boom because of the state's population and industrial growth.

Ten to 15 natural-gas-fired plants and five coal-fired plants are under construction or in permitting phases in Texas, Fainter reported.

An application has been filed for a nuclear power plant and two more nuclear power plant applications may be sought by companies, he said.

Bates said El Paso Electric would have to seek other new sources of power in coming years as it begins retiring some of its old gas-fired power units in El Paso.

The company now serves more than 361,000 customers in El Paso and Southern New Mexico, and expects to see more growth fueled by Fort Bliss expansion, Bates said at the ceremony.

Vic Kolenc may be reached at [email protected]; 546-6421.

For more information: www.epelectric.com

Project to create 200 construction jobs

Power expansion --El Paso Electric is beginning construction on a $217 million addition to its Newman Power Generating Station in far Northeast El Paso.

--Two gas-fired generators are expected to be operating by May 2009.

--A steam generator is to be installed in a second phase. Exhaust gases from the gas generators will go into a heat recovery system generator, which will create steam to make power. That system is expected to reduce natural-gas consumption by 26 percent. Source: El Paso Electric


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